Matthew Plese's article "A Catholic Guide to Islam"

A Catholic Guide to Islam

What Is Islam?

Islam is the second largest religious belief system in the world with approximately 1.6 billion adherents, as stated in a 2012 study by Pew Research Center. Of the five major world religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity are the only monotheistic, “prophetic” religions. The expected growth of Islam around the world is staggering, according to a Pew Research Center report projecting the future of religious groups. Indeed, the Muslim population will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2010 and 2050. Also, according to that same report, in the second half of this century, Muslims will likely surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group. This meteoric growth of worldwide Islam is largely due to biological expansion: Muslims usually have large families.

Mohammad is the central figure of Islam. This self-proclaimed “prophet” was born about 570 AD and lived until 632 AD. Much controversy has developed in the ensuing years considering his life, lifestyle and teachings. Islam’s chief holy book is the Qur’an, which, according to Muslims, instructs all in the way of life and to obedience to Allah, the monotheistic god of Islam.

Muslims claim that this monotheistic god is the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. While they claim that Our Lord Jesus Christ was a prophet, they claim that He was not God, did not truly die on the Cross, and did not institute any religion or Sacraments. Truly, Islam is a mixture of Arianism along with Paganism. It is, simply put, a man-made religion.

Rather than merely dismissing Islam, Catholics should be informed on its basics so to be more effective missionaries in winning converts for the True God from Islam.


When Did Islam Begin?

Although the origin of Islam is generally accredited to Muhammad (570 – 632), devout Muslims believe that Islam began long before Muhammad. However, according to them, the Qur’an was dictated by Muhammad; but, according to Muhammad, the Qur’an did not originate with him. The Qur’an claims to testify to its own authenticity by asserting that it was given by God, through the angel Gabreel,[1] to the prophet Muhammad. No one could ever attest to the authenticity of the Qur’an or its contents except Muhammad, who wrote it down.


What Do Muslims Believe?

The word Islam means ‘submission’; it signifies complete submission to the will of Allah. Muslim is a Persian form of this word. Iman is a word describing the doctrines of Islam, and Din refers to the religious practices of Muslims.

Iman is divided into six articles: 1) belief in Allah; 2) belief in angels; 3) belief in certain books having divine origin;[2] 4) belief in the Prophets (among whom Muslims number Jesus Christ); 5) belief in the general resurrection and the Day of Judgment; and 6) belief in the predestination of good and evil.

There are four Din: prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca. Prayer includes spoken words, ritual washing, and precise gestures and postures. Muslims are supposed to pray five times each day. Friday is the Muslim holy day and is observed with public services and prayers but not rest, as Christians and Jews are accustomed to.

Almsgiving is divided into the categories of legal and voluntary alms. Legal alms are a required portion of one’s income given as alms, and voluntary alms are anything beyond that requirement that one chooses to give. Fasting is observed during the month of Ramadan in daylight hours and is very strict. But between sunset and sunrise there are no fasting rules, and many Muslims engage in large dinner parties. Pilgrimage to Mecca is required of every Muslim at least once in their lifetime and is a highly ritualized practice.

Islam gives its adherents no guarantee of going to Paradise. They believe that all their works will be accounted for; and on Judgment Day if a person’s bad works outweigh his good works, he is going to hell. On the other hand, if a person’s good works outweigh his bad works, he probably will be granted a trip to Paradise. Since God is all-powerful, Muslims concede that God may do with each person as He pleases. Even if that person has been righteous, God could send him to hell on a whim. Muslims hope God won’t be having a “bad day” at Judgment. Interesting though, they claim that Our Lord Jesus Christ will come to judge the world at the End of Time – although they deny His divinity and view Him only as a prophet.


Why Do Muslims Pray Towards Mecca?

Muhammad is interred in the Mosque of the Prophet in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. The grave itself cannot be seen as the area is cordoned off by a gold mesh and black curtains. The grave is marked by an austere green dome built by the Ottoman Turks centuries ago. This dome has become universally emblematic of both Muhammad himself, as well as the city of Medina. Muhammad’s gravesite is an important reason for the particularly high alleged sanctity of the mosque. Millions of pilgrims on their annual pilgrimage to Mecca travel by way of Medina to visit the mosque.


The Inaccuracies of the Qur’an

Islam claims the Old Testament as its own. However, Islam has no prophecies from its founder, Muhammad, which would back up his claims to authority. The following are seven examples of the inaccuracies and grave errors of the Qur’an:

  1. In the Qur’an, Muhammad claims that stars are missiles that Allah uses to shoot at demons who try to sneak into paradise: “And We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps, and we have made such missiles to drive away the Evil Ones and have prepared for them the Penalty of the Blazing Fire.” Qur’an, Sura 67:5
  2. One of the most awkward events in Muhammad’s life occurred when Satan allegedly put words into Muhammad’s mind. Muhammad admitted he “spoke Satan’s words as being the words of God.” This admission is documented by several Muslim scholars and referenced in the Hadith and the Qur’an itself. These words are referred to as the “Satanic Verses.”[3] In fact, after this admission, Muhammad said he wished that God would not reveal anything further to him that would alienate fellow Arabs. The existence of the Satanic Verses is attested to by four early Muhammad biographers: Ibn Ishaq, Wakidi, Ibn Sa’d, and Tabari.
  3. A true prophet should possess utmost humility as did the biblical prophets, but what we know about Muhammad shows him to have been an arrogant, self-possessed and self-aggrandizing man.
  4. There are more than 100 verses in the Qur’an advocating the use of violence to spread Islam. There are exactly 123 verses in the Qur’an about killing and fighting.[4] And it is no secret that Muslims have used violence to kill others for religious reasons. In fact, a number of saints were martyred for the Catholic Faith for refusing to convert to Islam.
  5. There is a terrible contradiction in this passage calling upon violence (even decapitation) and upon practicing charity. This means charity is only offered to those who ‘submit’ and violence upon all others. “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent [convert to Islam], and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” Qur’an, Sura 9:5
  6. They deny both the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. “…they said (in boast): We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, yet so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him no. Nay, Allah took him up to Himself.” Qur’an, Sura 4:157-158
  7. They deny the Blessed Trinity, the central Mystery of the Christian Faith, stating: “They do blaspheme who say: ‘Allah is one of three in a Trinity’: for there is no god except One Allah. If they [Christians] do not desist from their word (of blasphemy), truly a grievous penalty will befall them.” Qur’an, Sura 5:73

Yet, God has divinely revealed the truth of His triune nature to men. This is the mystery of God in Himself and by which He calls us into existence and into a loving relationship with Him. If God is not Triune, then He cannot be perfect in Himself for all eternity. Why? Because God would have lacked love when only He existed, as there would have been no other existing being to love. But if God is Trinity from all eternity then God can indeed be perfect Love (cf. 1 John 4:8) – and men, made in His image and likeness, are likewise called to love God and one another in and through God.

The list of the Qur’an’s scientific inaccuracies, theological errors, and contradictions is extensive. We finish with Muhammad’s own words from Muslim scripture: “This is a revelation from the Lord of the universe. The Honest Spirit (Gabreel) came down with it, to reveal it into your heart [through me]…” (Qur’an, Sura [10], 26:192-195). And completely to the contrary: “I have fabricated things against God and have imputed to Him words which He has not spoken.” Muhammad (Al-Tabari, 6:111). Muhammad never revealed which words in the Qur’an were true and which were fabricated, leaving his adherents with a sizable dilemma.

For more information on Islam from a truly Catholic source, look into The Life and Religion of Mohammed: The Prophet of Arabia by Rev. J. L. Menezes. A summary of that book may be purchased online. See also the 32-page booklet, Fatima, Islam and Our Lady’s coming Triumph.


Pray for the Conversion of Muslims

Of course, as in all belief systems, many adherents to Islam understand very little about their religion. They are Muslim because they were raised as a Muslim. And despite the Qur’an ordering those who leave Islam to be executed, we must pray for more and more Muslims to see the errors of their religion and to embrace the one true God: the Most Blessed Trinity.

Join me in praying for their conversion through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.[5]

[1] The spelling of the Archangel Gabriel in the Qur’an.

[2] Muslims believe God to be the author of the Qur’an, the Gospel, the Torah, and the Psalms.


[3] The Satanic Verses, a contemporary novel combining magical realism and historical fiction, was written by Sir Salman Rushdie, a British Indian novelist and essayist. This bestselling novel (1988) was the center of major controversy, provoking loud protests from influential Muslims. Death threats were made against Rushdie, including a fatwa (death contract) issued by Iran’s then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. As a result, Rushdie was put under police protection by the British government for more than a decade.

[4] The so-called “Sword Verse,” for example, is the fifth verse of the ninth sura of the Qur’an. This verse orders true Islamic believers to “fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them.”

[5] There is a deep connection between Our Lady of Fatima and Islam. Rather than allowing the souls in this religion to perish, we should do everything in our power to show them the errors of their false prophet. But all of our efforts will be ineffective if we do not have the greatest recourse to prayer. Let us pray often – even daily – that Our Lady of Fatima will save souls from Islam and bring them to the sweet yoke of Christ in the Catholic Faith. For more information on the connection between Our Lady of Fatima and Islam, see